While I rarely leave the comfort of my home during this time of year, we just spent a long weekend traveling out of state. It took six hours to reach our destination. Traveling for us is broken down into required planned stops, and this trip would require at least one each way. Through the marvels of the Internet and a combination of laws and good sense, we were able to locate a family bathroom about halfway through the trip. What the Internet, laws, and good sense couldn’t tell us was that the door of said bathroom would be locked and that no one would ever exit in the half hour that we waited. Thankfully, a combination of effective medication and a good night’s rest equipped me with just enough physical ability to use the general women’s bathroom or we might still be there waiting. The bathroom we went to was inside of a mall’s food court where the music was so loud you could barely hear people speak without voices being raised; so while we knocked and asked if someone was inside the bathroom, hearing no reply really didn’t mean anything. We asked about it when a custodian walked by, but he said he had just checked it recently so it should be in working order. Looking back on it, it may have been wise to ask someone to check the door later because there could have been someone inside who was in trouble. We got back on the road and drove the rest of the trip in good traffic and good weather. Our stop on the way back was a newer rest area with a family bathroom. I cannot overstate the convenience and advantage these family bathrooms are for us.
While we were away, we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. We had a handicapped room in the hotel. I wish I had taken pictures of the bathroom, but the stress level of traveling and adjusting to a different environment and the event we were attending left me with little energy to concentrate on anything else. Out of the five handicapped rooms they offer, only one had a roll-in shower and ours did not; but the side of the tub was much lower than normal. While I wish the hotel offered more than one roll-in shower, I’d never seen the low sided tub feature before but know it would be very helpful for some and the designer should be applauded for thinking to include it. The grab bars at the toilet and in the shower were quite long and they were placed well. The shower faucet controls were well designed for ease of use and the shower head was height adjustable. The sink was well designed, although the handle was a bit stiff to use. There wasn’t a way to get close to the mirror but there was a full-length mirror right outside the bathroom.
I must include here that we were attending a family celebration where relatives from out of town met. More than one family member required a roll-in shower so one couple chose to stay in a different hotel that had a room with a roll-in shower available. That meant the hotel where we stayed lost a customer. That is something hotel chains should consider when they believe they are cutting costs of construction (short-term vs. long-term cost).
There was ample room to maneuver my scooter in both the regular room and the bathroom. Sometimes hotel beds are unusually high, but the bed in our room seemed to be average height. A drawback was the lack of sufficient lighting in the whole room, but especially the bathroom. While there was a nice light over the shower, lighting in the sink and toilet area was dim. Regarding overall accessibility, the room gets very high marks.
The hotel was relatively new and decorated beautifully. On general appearance, the hotel gets a 9 on a 1 to 10 scale. I normally hate any shade of gray in decorating as it appears to me as a cloudy day. However, the hotel used a very dark gray with black and white and I found it pleasant in appearance. The hallways with dark gray doors and frames accented by the black and white carpet was sleek and striking. Of interest was that every room had a large picture of a cow head with an eye that seemed to follow you when you moooved. It was a little on the creepy side, but made for some interesting conversation at breakfast with relatives.
Breakfast buffet was much better than most and the eating area was spacious with comfortable couches and chairs among the tables and adjacent computer access. An especially nice touch was a sign at the buffet letting disabled patrons know they could ask for assistance in reaching food. The desk and hospitality staff were exceptionally polite and helpful. A minor complaint is that the refrigerator opened the opposite way of what would have been convenient. A major complaint was the ridiculously thin toilet paper and facial tissue. I’ve never understood the reasoning of settling for such low-grade products, as people naturally make up in length what is lacked in thickness, resulting in no monetary savings.
We were away from home for four days. I was struck once more by the difference an extra grab bar makes, or even the difference in height of a grab bar from what I’m used to. Each change requires adjustment to routine and extra thinking for execution of movement. But the fact that we live in America where such laws as ADA compliance offer advantages cannot be over appreciated. There is always something to be grateful for. There are some favorite family members we rarely have the opportunity to see, and time with them is cherished. So while traveling during this past weekend was difficult, we are glad we made the trip.